I have a lot of feelings about May. On one hand, I loved it and wish I had known about it a lot sooner. It speaks to the little weirdo inside of me, the one that would have been terribly fascinated to see a dog’s suture burst open in the yard. On the other hand, I loved it, and there is a big difference in principle between the two. Both sentiments are governed by completely different schools of thought, the latter of which is driven by an emotion akin to an experienced reader finding pleasure in a good book. It’s deeper, less visceral, and allows me to reflect on the movie as a student of horror films.
Fascinating in its ability to turn the serial killer genre on its head, May struck me as an attempt to explore the idea of the feminine in the context of a typically male type of monster. May’s characteristics leave no question as to her femininity. Thin, pretty, and a talented seamstress, she embodies all kinds of classical female qualities, right down to her doll collection and slightly childish looking bedroom.
As evidenced by Halloween, male serial killers tend to be more visceral. When men start hacking and slashing, nobody asks questions; motives are secondary, almost as if it’s universally accepted that all men have the same innate capacity for violence and all they need is a little push, a bit of bad luck, mommy issues…
May at first appears to be more a product of her outside rejections than some internal dysfunction. Mike Myers (and many, many other male serial killers) tend to be arguably sociopathic from the get-go. May got a whole movie about her slow descent into monsterhood but Halloween couldn’t even spare Mike Myers an hour. Even the famous Mrs. Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame owed her mad murder streak to an external motive (as opposed to a natural love for hunting kids in the forest). So what does it say about us that it feels more “real” for a woman to grow into her monsterhood?
Generally speaking, May is actually pretty successful at being a functioning member of society: she’s good at her job, clean and physically attractive, and she is obviously capable and independent. There are no dark, dank cabins in the woods for May. In fact, as far as her social awkwardness is concerned I’ve met people who were far worse. If so, if she’s actually not all that bad as a person, doesn’t that mean that her propensity toward violence is just a natural little something that bubbles forth from people who are pushed too far? Is there just a thin, fragile line between being a functioning member of society and going full-on serial killer?
I guess it can be said that May’s main problem is in her inability to repel abjection. She allows her fascination to overcome her and it manifests in her as “weirdness”. What’s funny is that while abjection is said to exist in immorality, May herself is not necessarily a bad person, but like a perfectly good jar of mayonnaise left open in a fridge full of fish she came out seeming, tasting, and smelling a little… strange. I think the movie actually did a good job of showing its titular character’s internal dysfunction. May’s affinity for blood was a good example of this, as it didn’t seem to have direct grounding in any of her personal experiences. Her capacity for murder, or even her instinctive need to synechdochially reduce the people around her to the sum of their parts, can probably be put into context when thought of this way.
Admittedly, I expected May to become the victim either of something supernatural or otherwise. I guess I technically wasn’t wrong, since May is pretty much a victim of her circumstances. With everything else that happens in the movie, I’m actually just glad that she ends up making a friend.